Spain

Traditionally dressed Spanish children

Country Information

At the crossroads of Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic, Spain has developed a rich culture. There are four official languages–Catalan, Galician, Basque, and Spanish–and seventeen political regions (comunidades autonomas), as well as a variety of cuisines, lifestyles, festivals, architecture and music.

Lifestyle and Family

Spanish families are typically open and welcoming, eager to make a good impression. Spanish families—including the extended family—tend to be close-knit, visiting each other frequently and sharing in large weekend gatherings. Family roles are modernizing in Spain, as they are around the world, and more and more women have jobs outside the home; but traditionally, the mother manages the household while the father works outside the home. Because homes and apartments in Spain tend to be small, siblings often share rooms.

Spaniards are more inclined to identify with their particular region than with the country as a whole.

Teen Life and Sports

Spanish schools focus primarily on academics. After school, Spanish teens often attend lectures, concerts and sporting events. Soccer (or futbol) is easily the most popular sport. Perhaps because of the climate and long daylight hours, Spaniards begin socializing later in the day and end later at night than their European neighbors. On weekends, teens often stay out late, going to movies, parties or hanging out together at the local café or town square.

Diet

In keeping with European tradition, lunch is the main meal of the day and is served around 2 or 3 p.m. Dinner is at 9 p.m. or later, and most families eat together. While each region of Spain has its own food specialties, Spanish cuisine reflects the country’s many historical influences. Generally speaking, Spanish cooking is Mediterranean in style with liberal use of olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes and peppers. Fish and seafood are abundant, but Spanish cooking emphasizes red meat and pork which are eaten nearly every day.

Language and Religion

Spain is a multicultural and multilingual country. Depending on the region, the community may speak Catalan, Galician, Valencian or Basque. At least 75% of Spanish people are Roman Catholic. However, most of them do not attend religious services on a regular basis.

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